Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Hugh B. Thomson to Walt Whitman, 5 December 1866

Date: December 5, 1866

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00873

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Brett Barney, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Heidi Bean

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New York
December 5, 1866
Walt Whitman Esq.

Dear Sir.—

The undersigned1 though a comparative stranger to you feels himself drawn toward you closer and closer after perusing your "Leaves of Grass." We have a sympathy in common with you. in some of these well wrought passages the experiences taught there has been one to some extent.

While doing garrison duty with my regiment the 2nd New York Arty on the works South of the Potomac I visited Washington in company with a comrade named Charles String of Connecticut and by him introduced to you at your studio. (I forget the street) but it was not far removed from the avenue. if I mistake not, you accompanied us to the theatre at night. I have never forgotten you since, remembering you as a friend to the Union and the "boys" striving to keep it together. I left the regiment in the trenches in front of Petersburgh, my term of Service having expired, after three years Service from Oct 1861. on arriving at Washington I tried to find you but could not. when you first met me, on leaving you you gave me a small book of poems with your name in it, bidding me think of you. I stowed it away in my knapsack but loosing that I lost your gift. I would like a duplicate, if it is not presuming too much. I trust you will not think me forward in this. With many and kind regards

Very Respectfully Yours
Hugh B. Thomson 242 Canal St New York City.


1. Hugh B. Thomson, who may have been a patient at Armory Square Hospital between 1862 and 1863, also wrote to Whitman on July 22, 1869: "You will not remember the writer of this letter....I won't forget Walt Whitman. I have just read that you completed your half century. May you live to a ripe old age, loving and beloved. I was reading 'Drum Taps' last night, no man can depict Army life so vividly that had not spent his time amongst the boys" (Yale). [back]


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